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We would like to introduce our LOEHLE AERO COATINGS process…
Our system utilizes the most advanced chemical technology available today and features our own LOEHLE ULTRA-FLEX TECHNOLOGY. Our system is based on modern urethane chemicals and produces the ultimate in very high gloss "wet looking" finishes. Our unique system even allows for the use of a special, crystal Clear Top Coat that produces a very rich, deep looking protective coating.
LOEHLE AERO COATINGShave been developed over a period of nearly 20 years. The chemical components have been formulated to work on all types of aircraft. They are designed to be applied on composite, metal and amateur-built fabric covered aircraft. While our coating process is not yet certified for certificated fabric aircraft, the goal is to eventually make them available for antique restoration shops and fixed base operators for this segment of the industry as well.
Our system was designed to eliminate as much work as possible for the amateur builder. We utilize chemicals that are designed to cover in as few coats as possible… the days of being required to spray on 35 gallons of chemicals to cover a Piper J-3 Cub size aircraft are now over! No longer are builders required to spray 10 + coats of filler on all surfaces BEFORE applying the color top coats… 1 to 3 coats are all that are required with our process!
Our special Filler / UV Blockers have been designed to fill or build up mil thickness quickly.
They dry fast and do not require anti-blush additives. Humidity is virtually not a factor. Blushing (turning white) of urethane chemicals is unheard of. They have been formulated to block ultraviolet radiation and are very opaque. Sun rays are blocked from passing through the chemical coatings. This keeps the rays from harming the fibers of the polyester fabric.
At first glance, modern urethane chemicals seem somewhat more costly than old nitrate, butyrate and vinyl based chemicals. When comparing costs though, urethanes are much thicker than older chemicals and are thus designed to be applied with fewer coats. They do not require a tremendous amount of thinner mixed with them to be sprayed. Since they go on much thicker, they do not need to have coat after coat of chemical sprayed on to get the required mil thickness for a proper job. Much less chemical is used because of this. One spray coat of our system is roughly equal to 3 spray coats of older type chemicals. Also, our LOEHLE AERO COATINGS process gives the builder a FULL gallon of Filler / UV Blocker and Top Coatings instead of a gallon can that is only filled up to the 3/4 mark. All our gallon cans are a full gallon. Once mixed, our Filler / UV Blockers are actually 1-1/2 gallons of chemical. So in the final outcome, the cost our system is similar to other processes on the market (while actually saving you money in the time involved to apply it).
On fabric covered aircraft, a thinned coat of Black Filler / UV Blocker is brushed on bare white fabric. The immediate color contrast of black onto white is very noticeable and assures total coverage. This first coat basically encapsulates the whole structure.
In addition to all these benefits, the Filler / UV Blockers have been specifically designed with sanding aids to produce a shiny finish when they are dry. This allows the finish to be dry sanded. Smooth areas turn to a flat, dull finish and allow rough areas to become very noticeable. Any "shiny" areas simply need additional sanding. Also, the whole process is designed to be sanded only one time… just before applying the Color Top Coat!
Another unique feature of our Filler / UV Blockers is that they come in black and white colors. The use of black pigment is the ultimate way to stop ultraviolet radiation. Only 1 to 2 coats of black Filler / UV Blocker is required on fabric covered aircraft. A white coat of Filler / UV Blocker is then applied. The sanding process of most covering systems are often tedious and it becomes really easy to sand down through their fillers right into the bare fabric.
Our process allows our white coating to be sanded easily, but as soon as any black coating starts to show a builder knows to stop sanding. This is very easy to see! No more bare fabric spots with our process.
A white coating just prior to applying a color top coat is the ultimate method if one wants the most vivid, bright finishing colors. Some companies even recommend the addition of a white coat of paint to be applied over the entire aircraft before applying the color coat!! We feel this is a great deal of extra work and expense, not to mention that most color coats are not designed to be sanded very much. Normally they are very thin. We simply designed our process to incorporate the use of white color.
Another point to consider is that our coatings are very durable. They are highly resistant to chemicals such as gasoline, paint thinners and even Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK). We can’t imagine having an aircraft on which the paint comes off or is permanently destroyed by simply spilling something on the finish!
As previously mentioned, our process can be used on aircraft that are fabric covered or made of metal or composites. The chemicals are designed for the maximum possible flexibility known today. This is what we refer to as LOEHLE ULTRA-FLEX TECHNOLOGY.
Our process basically consists of the following steps for applying chemicals to fabric, composites or metal surfaces:
Step 1. Prepare the surface for paint.
Step 2. Brush on 1 thinned coat of Black Filler / UV Blocker (only for fabric surfaces).
Step 3. Spray on 1 – 2 coats of Black Filler / UV Blocker. The second coat of Black Filler / UV Blocker is optional. Ultralight (microlight) aircraft could skip this step and proceed with a single coat of White Filler / UV Blocker.
Step 4. Spray on 1 coat of White Filler / UV Blocker.
Step 5. Sand White Filler / UV Blocker.
Step 6. Spray on Color Top Coat.
Step 7. Spray on optional Clear Top Coat.
Here are some frequently asked questions and Mike Loehle will answer these…
How long have you folks been working with paint processes for aircraft?
I first started working with paint on aircraft in the late 1970’s. My first covering job was on an Easy Riser hang glider using old-fashioned nitrate and butyrate dopes. The fabric was available in a few basic colors, but basically white or light yellow was common.
The first "real" paint I recall applying was on my own Riser and it was trimmed with automotive Dupont Centari™. Most trim colors were sprayed on with aerosol spray paints from the local hardware store in those days.
The first production aircraft paint jobs I did was attempting to keep paint on the leading edges of 12 twin engine Piper Aztecs that were used daily for charter work. Battling with rain and ice was a constant problem. The paint was Dupont Imron™… my first exposure to polyurethane paints. It was almost love at first sight… I realized this paint would SHINE if applied properly.
The only real problem is that I and others had trouble making the color top coat adhere to Dupont’s special primer. Much experimentation found that a light coat of zinc chromate primer worked much better. The leading edges required a lot less touch up after this.
I worked awhile fabricating and painting permanent industrial magnets with Dupont Centari™ and really learned to apply metal flake silver pretty well. Silver is not a very easy paint to apply and achieve a high gloss finish… any extra paint and the flakes turn basically to a black streak.
Possibly the first high gloss painted ultralight to arrive at Oshkosh was my black Aeroplane in 1981. The machine was very unusual and shined brightly, while the industry standard was to use flat looking butyrate dope for finishing. Many folks wanted to know what in the world I had finished the Aeroplane with and in the years following, paint jobs started to become shiny on ultralights. (This aircraft won the Grand Champion and Outstanding Craftsmanship Awards that year… and again the following year won the Grand Champion Award at Sun’n Fun.)
The first prototype "5151" Mustang was finished in a mixture of chemicals with the primary one consisting of MARTIN-SENOUR™ acrylic enamel. It was later repainted with a high gloss look using my own mixture of chemicals.
The now famous blue and yellow Paul I "5151" Mustang kit prototype was finished with my own mixture of urethane chemicals and was our first aircraft that utilized a totally clear liquid coating over the color coats. This was also the first clear coating we ever heard of applied over vinyl graphics. They were just starting to appear in the light aircraft industry. It was said that one could not clear coat over these… sure has worked well since 1989 for us. The aircraft received the Best Commercial Lightplane Award that year at Sun’n Fun.
This aircraft was also featured on many magazine covers.
In 1991, our new Sport Parasol ultralight design was introduced and featured my mixture of chemicals on it. The aircraft was gloss black and international orange… and it also featured my special clear coat process. This aircraft won the Honorable Mention Award at Oshkosh in 1991.
In 1993, we debued our P-40 Flying Tiger, complete with my urethane finish and crystal Clear Top Coat. It was also featured on numerous magazine covers and even calendars. After 15 years of hard airshow display work and it still looks really good… many folks think it was recently finished!
What is the weight of your system compared to others?
We have covered many aircraft over the years with virtually all of the systems that are or have been on the market. We find the only real difference in the approximate weight added during covering and/or painting is the amount of chemicals applied. What we’re really trying to say is the actual mil thickness of the coatings. Good quality, nice looking, high gloss finishes really need to have more mil thickness of fillers and paint than a super lightweight job. Most of these lightweight (thin) jobs look unfinished, and have a dull look to them. Our finishes are very comparable to all the other brands we’ve worked with, once a top notch, high gloss finish is the goal. The actual weights per square foot of our process have never been analyzed, as we have never really been concerned with it… we just know they all are similar. Note that our chemicals shine even if a builder applies very little. It is almost impossible to get a dull finish with our urethane coatings because of their very nature… especially our Clear Top Coatings.
One additional note to remember is that when an aircraft is completed, what a builder and his airport friends see when they open the hangar door is the finish on the plane. At that point, we would much rather have a plane that "still looks like the paint is wet", than one that folks think is unfinished! We’ve heard builders say many times that they really don’t care how the plane looks when it’s finished… they just want a cheap paint job, so they plan to use the minimum amount of paint. We guarantee they will regret this decision. We’ve done both kinds of paint jobs and first class chemicals are the only way to go. We’d leave off the latest "electronic gizmo" that will be outdated in a couple of years, if we wanted to save money… but not on the finish!
How long will your system last and what about dulling and cracking of the finish?
Numerous brands of covering systems are on the market today. All appear to be good systems… some more user friendly than others. Some state that their system is the only system to use… well we’re not sure they aren’t exaggerating that statement a bit! Some say that their paint system is the only one that will not crack with age. Quite frankly, these statements are sometimes more myth that reality.
First off, we’ve never seen any paint system that does not age and or show signs of slight cracking as the years go by… ours included. Some folks have reported to us that they have gotten cracks in as little as 6 months with certain brands of certified coatings. Now that to us is ridiculous. As of this writing, our P-40 demo plane has 15 years of service on it and quite a lot of airshow abuse and it still leaves people amazed it was painted that long ago. We won’t guarantee what it will look like in another 15 years, but we think it will be pretty good.
We’ve never seen any paint process on cars, boats or houses that lasted forever! Can you imagine that your car’s paint would look brand new after 20 years! Some companies want you to think that their system will allow your aircraft to still be perfect in that amount of time. Well, we’ve never seen proof of these tales… all systems age. Believe me, we’ve studied aircraft finishes for many years and inspected many planes. One of our goals is to provide the best possible look, with the least possible signs of aging and for the longest time possible. But sun and weather do take their toll after a period of time. All chemical coatings seem to eventually dry out…
Now regarding the dulling of the finish… our "wet look" coatings remain virtually identical to the first day the coatings were applied. Again, 15 years on our P-40 Flying Tiger and still looking good! Also, we recently wiped decal adhesive off the P-40’s wings with strong lacquer thinner right out in the sun at the Oshkosh Airshow without affecting the Clear Top Coating. Onlookers were shocked and amazed as they watched this! The Clear Top Coating was unaffected and still shined brightly.
Also, this aircraft has never been waxed…
What quantity of materials will be needed for my plane?
This particular question is always a loaded one… any company that supplies covering materials knows that the best that they can do is to attempt at advising the material quantities. Each builder will use different amounts… some less than the general recommendations and some will use vast amounts above what is considered normal. One common mistake builder’s will make when using any process that is of a catalyzed mixture, is to mix up too large of a quantity. This is not the manufacturer’s fault, just a learning curve on the builder’s part.
Another point that we’ve found is that if a builder has plenty of extra chemical on hand, the tendency is to "pour it on" and end up with more coating applied… resulting in extra weight and money spent on the project. We’ve found that in our own covering projects, we always seem to be just slightly short of some chemical, while having a bit of something else left over. This is just the way it is. Just expect that you’ll probably need an additional amount of something before finished. If the process was applied by robotics, we might be able to work it out to the letter, but we’re just humans!
Our recommendations are based on the basic quantities we’ve noted over the years and also what other companies have said that our kit customers have required for their projects. Even though we‘ve started selling our own process, we will be advising folks to order less chemicals instead of more… our goal is to help builders achieve a "wet looking" finish like our planes have… not to just sell chemicals to builders! The more covering and painting packages we sell in the future will help us dial in the quantities for the various designs… please bear with us as we work on this.
We’ve heard about builders using latex house paint for their finish. What do you think about this?
We have quite a bit of experience with this process. It was first tried probably 20 years ago on ultralights. Normally a coat of black latex was thinned down with water and brushed on bare fabric. The next coats were either rolled on like house paint or thinned down and sprayed on the surfaces. Normally, brush marks were visible even through the top color coats. The black pigment did block ultraviolet rays, but smooth spraying was always a problem. Sanding of the latex was like sanding rubber and of course, that is what it is! Also, the latex generally cracked as time went by. Any time the paint was damaged, the latex seemed to flake off … right down to the bare fabric.
We finally had to admit that after spending hundreds of hours building and thousands of dollars on our aircraft, we were just not going to gamble with latex house paint for a coating. The black was a good idea, but that’s where it ends.
Popular paint for cars is a base coat/clear coat process. Is your system this process?
No, not at all. Our special formulated chemicals are not the typical flat type base coat paint. Our coatings can be clear coated or not. The Clear Top Coating is an option, but if a builder elects to not clear coat, the Color Top Coats we provide are designed to be a fully finished coat and shine as well as any top coatings on the market today. Folks that visit our factory are sometimes amazed when they see an aircraft surface finished through our Color Top Coat and not yet clear coated. They can’t believe the high gloss shine and that we haven’t even clear coated the surface yet! Our process is unique…
What colors are available for Loehle Aero Coatings?
Color samples are available with a standard selection of 54 colors. The color choices are similar to the chips presently provided by other companies. Almost any color can be provided on request.
Can the Loehle Aero Coatings process be repaired?
Absolutely. Repairs are very easy. One simply trims up the damaged area, if it is on a fabric aircraft, scuff sands and simply uses Fabric Cement to attach a fabric patch. The patch is then treated just like if one was covering the whole surface… Filler /UV Blockers and then Color Top Coats.
If a builder is repairing a metal or composite aircraft, scuff sanding and applying Filler/ UV Blockers and then Color Top Coats are all that is required. Repairs are easy with our coatings.
Are your coating hazardous to work with?
You should use a fresh air respirator when working with any modern day urethane based chemicals. This not only applies to our chemicals, but to any other brand of covering systems that use urethanes.
Automotive urethane paints also fall into this category. Many auto painters and aircraft restorers do not use the forced air respirators, even though they should. They choose to use only a good quality charcoal filtered mask (respirator).
Not using a fresh air respirator is not the smart thing to do. The companies that manufacture the chemicals say you should not rely only on a charcoal type filter, but people’s habits are hard to change. Many feel that if they are only painting a couple of aircraft or cars, they can get by without a full fresh air respirator…
We can supply a complete system that is relatively inexpensive for custom aircraft builders. The cost can easily be shared with another builder… but the bottom line is that they are now available for personal use. We feel you should consider these for any type paints… urethanes, vinyl based liquids and even common oil based paints! Most paints will give you a headache when you breathe them, so this should be a clue! We personally are concerned with fumes entering not only the lungs, but also the tissues of the eyes.
We like to wear disposable jumpsuits that are fairly common in industry today. If you don’t wish to use one, at least wear old clothes, shoes, hat, disposable latex gloves and maybe even goggles… along with a charcoal filtered mask (respirator).
Most chemicals used to cover aircraft are somewhat hazardous, but with a little caution and common sense, you’ll be fine.
Are Loehle Aero Coatings able to be used on certificated aircraft?
Yes, except for the fabric covered certificated aircraft. They are great for metal and composite aircraft of all kinds. We do have a good deal of requests for our coatings to be used on production aircraft. The plan is to have them certified in the future for the fabric covered certificated aircraft as well, but right now we’re focusing on amateur built fabric covered aircraft.
If I’m building a replica and really don’t want the high gloss feature of your system, can the finish be flattened?
Yes, the coatings can be made to not shine. A special Flat Clear Top Coating can be supplied on special request. However, keep in mind, the most popular warbirds at the large airshows like Oshkosh are finished in glossy paint today. If you want the "WOW factor", as one of our replica builders puts it, stay with the Loehle "wet look".
No other aircraft paint systems on the market seem to have a clear coat application. Why is this?
We can’t actually speak for the various companies that offer paint systems, but our suspicions are that since most systems are already certified; they are bound by their government paperwork. The processes and chemicals they have certified could be as many as 43 years old! These figures come from published literature from the various companies.
Some companies offer clear coatings, but they also say not to use them over their other top coats!! The clear coats that are provided are not really clear. They have a yellow looking tint to them that darkens somewhat as time goes on. Some representatives of various companies have told folks that our Clear Top Coatings will yellow in the future, but when shown our P-40 Flying Tiger aircraft up close, they had to admit that there was no yellowing… even after 15 years.
In summary, our coatings are the most modern chemicals available to builders today. Why would you want to use a process and chemicals that are 40+ years old?
Any other items we should know about?
Additional items to mention is that we are continuing to add information to our printed literature and items to our product list. If you don’t see something you would like to order, please mention it to us and we’ll consider adding it to our product list. Also questions you may have are welcome and may be added to this literature in the future.
We are now offering factory covering classes that demonstrate our methods and LOEHLE AERO COATINGS. Call for the schedule or to enroll in the next class.
If you plan to cover and/or paint an aircraft, we highly suggest that you visit our factory to see our system before you choose a process.
Thank you for taking time to consider our system and allowing us to provide details on LOEHLE AERO COATINGS.
(Some sections still under construction)Loehle Aero Coatings Price Sheet
Loehle Aero Coatings Procedure Manual
Thank you for your paint and aircraft kit business! We appreciate it!!